This week in women’s soccer, Tobin Heath was named U.S. Soccer Player of the Year and North Carolina FC expressed interest in joining the NWSL. Also, FC Kansas City’s general manager resigned after four years with the club. Locally, the Washington Spirit’s Francesca Ordega is part of a Nigerian women’s national team sit-in to demand outstanding payments from their federation.
Let’s get to the news:
Tobin Heath named POTY
Tobin Heath was named U.S. Soccer Player of the Year after winning 40 percent of the vote. The Spirit’s Crystal Dunn came in second place. Heath played in 22 games this year and scored six goals in addition to her eight assists. She earned the second-most minutes for the WNT. 2016 was a dismal year for the USWNT, who crashed out of the Olympics in historic fashion. For the Portland Thorns, Heath notched ten assists in 14 games. Ashley Sanchez was named Young Female Player of the Year. Potential USWNT star Mal Pugh was not eligible to win that award, as she has previously won it.
North Carolina FC is interested in joining the NWSL
The former Carolina Railhawks announced last week that the club will be rebranding itself as North Carolina FC. The club is currently in the North American Soccer League but is hoping to join the MLS in the next few years. Currently, the team is based in Cary, North Carolina, but the team announced plans to create a 20,000+ seat stadium.
Owner Steve Malik said, “We aspire to be at the top level of both men’s and women’s professional soccer, so we are pursuing MLS and NWSL bids as well as a new stadium. We made a conscious decision to brand ourselves as North Carolina’s professional club. A united soccer community will be one of the keys to reaching these goals.”
Malik announced he hopes to be awarded an NWSL side in the next three to six months. While NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush has said he hopes the league will expand, he’s stated he prefers the league expands in pairs. Future MLS expansion team Los Angeles FC is a potential contender to expand into the NWSL in 2018.
FCKC general manager Huw Williams resigns
FC Kansas City general manager Huw Williams announced on Thursday his retirement from the club. Williams helped launch FCKC and was instrumental in the college draft process. Williams said he is leaving to focus on Global Sports International, his Kansas City-based sports management business.
“I’ve loved being a part of this venture since the beginning. I wish nothing but the best for Vlatko [Andonovski, FCKC’s head coach] and the team and the NWSL. I have learned so much and made many lifelong friends in the past four years. I will miss being here every day, but I will be a Blues fan for life,” said Williams.
Nigeria WNT launch sit-in
The Nigerian women’s national team is on their ninth day of a sit-in protest against their federation. The team has not been paid for winning the African Cup of Nations and the federation still owes the players money from earlier games, the BBC reported. Washington Spirit striker Francesca Ordega started in the final.
"This is a fight about the welfare of the team. It's about the way the team has been handled over the years. We are champions. We went out to fight for the nation even without being paid - not everything is about money but of course it is an issue,” Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala told BBC. The players are refusing to leave until they get payment from the federation.
W-League Week Six
Spirit forward Katie Stengel scored the equalizing goal in stoppage time for the Western Sydney Wanderers in their 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory. Chicago Red Stars forward Sofia Huerta scored for Adelaide United in the team’s 3-2 loss to Brisbane Roar. Canberra United snapped Melbourne City’s franchise-long unbeaten streak. 15-year-old Karly Roestbakken scored the winning goal to end City’s 18-game run. Canberra currently sits in third place, two points behind Sydney FC and Melbourne City.
Seattle Reign re-sign Rachel Corsie
Seattle Reign announced last week that the club re-signed Scottish defender Rachel Corsie. She missed much of the 2016 season due to injury and only started in eleven games. Corsie started fourteen games for the Reign in 2015 as the team advanced to the NWSL final. Corsie has three career goals, including one this season against the Boston Breakers.
Caitlin Foord looking to play in Australia
Australian women’s national team and former Sky Blue FC defender Caitlin Foord announced in a Facebook live video that she is planning to play in Asia after the conclusion of the W-League season. Reportedly, the defender is heading to Japan. Foord said she was close to finalizing the deal. Foord joined Sky Blue in 2013 but missed the 2016 season. Foord was listed on the team’s preseason roster but did not report to preseason and was never listed on the official roster.
NWSL College Draft moved to 3pm
The NWSL confirmed the draft will now be held at 3 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 12, 2016. The draft was previously scheduled for 1 p.m. EST. The draft is open to the public and will be held during the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) convention in Los Angeles, California.